Beyond the Fringe 

Visual Fringe
Through Sept. 3

The second annual IndyFringe Festival is adding significantly more visual art to the mix this year, and in more than just one gallery space. But don’t expect the same variety, depth and breadth of expression as the theater venues are offering; this festival’s strength is in performance. That said, this year’s visual art offerings are more eclectic and diverse than last year’s. And that means they’re likely to get even better as the festival evolves.

In the meantime, here’s what you can expect, more or less: non-juried exhibitions (or, I should say, mini-exhibitions) of work in existing Massachusetts Avenue venues and a few unexpected ones. The work is inconsistent over all — in LAMP gallery’s basement, for example, the Fringe folks took a “first come, first hung” approach, which means LAMP’s Jennifer Kaye had nothing to do with the selections, and it shows, with a few lovely exceptions (Jennifer Oechsle’s “Bulls” among them).

On the other hand, a couple blocks away, Herron School of Art’s temporary exhibition in the Beilouny Development is stellar from all outward appearances. (But please, organizers, try and keep the exhibition open past 8 p.m. on theater nights. Folks are still wandering around at least until 9 between performances.) When I looked in the windows — thankfully, they surround the space — I could see the art even though the doors were locked. I could also see that the work is strong, as one might expect: The works are by Herron faculty, alumni and accomplished students exploring many different media and expressions.

I also took a peek inside Mike Loudermilk Photography, where a selection of Fringe photographs hang, plus a sneak preview of black-and-white photographs by seasoned photographer Rod Hinsch (slated for exhibition in September). Hinsch captures the faces and interior spaces of the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco in the early ’70s. Delightfully light-hearted ceramic and painted glass works hanging in McFee Gallery, and mixed-media works in Precious Mettles Gallery also show promise in their own right, giving a better taste of what a full-fledged Visual Fringe effort could offer with more participation and more selective selection.

Other Visual Fringe offerings include participation in the “Graffiti Art Pit” in the 800 block of Massachusetts Avenue, and an exchange art program at some theater venues — pick up a piece of art for free, just write down why you selected the work. Word also has it Primary Colours is displaying “movable” installation art. (I viewed a lively decorated rickshaw on the avenue, but nothing else.) Other Visual Fringe venues include Franklin Barry Gallery and Vic’s Coffee Café.

Certainly, Massachusetts Avenue is alive with culture these days, and the IndyFringe Festival gives it a flavor one could wish for year-round. Visual Fringe is an important component, and I have no doubt it will only get better as the festival continues to flourish.

For more information about Visual Fringe (up through the run of the festival, Sept. 3), visit the IndyFringe Web site:

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